I thought I learned that as a kid, but apparently I didn’t. In this all too true story about the early years of my accounting practice, I took things from other people without realizing it and ultimately of course I paid the price. As you read this, consider if you’ve unwittingly taken things from others. If so, give it back….
As I was exploring the possibility of starting my own firm, some well respected older and wiser colleagues offered sage advice. They cautioned, “It’s hard to get new clients. It takes time to build a practice. Clients are fee sensitive. If you charge too much they won’t hire you.” This reality was a bit chilling, but my youth and naiveté prevented me from being dissuaded.
The practice I started in my late 20s grew very quickly. Knowing how hard it was to get clients, I worked day and night to get as many as I could. By the end of the first year I acquired, one by one, 74 business clients. My criteria for client selection? If they wanted me, I wanted them. Knowing clients were fee sensitive, I kept my fees low. I never fired a client, not even those that were near impossible to work with Why would you ever fire a client? They’re hard to come by. Or why risk losing a client by raising fees? I wasn’t stupid. I learned from the experience of others, something my dad always suggested.
I enjoyed the growth, but felt like I was eating soup with a fork. I was very busy, and very hungry.
Years later, as I came to understand how our self-limiting views shape our practices, I had some profound, painful “aha” moments as I looked back on the early years of my practice. It occurred to me that I was operating from a place of scarcity. Believing it was hard to get new clients, I took any client that would have me. I never fired a client and was afraid to raise fees. The price I paid was having a practice that “ran me” rather than a practice created by conscious intent, a practice that would have been much more profitable and rewarding. My fears prevented me from making smarter decisions.
Where did I get that scarcity thinking? Remember I confessed taking things from other people? I took the beliefs of others, their scarcity thinking, and made it my own. I don’t blame them. They gave me the best advice they could. But they didn’t see it as their views, they stated it as “truth”. That’s how most of us perceive our self-limiting views, as truths. I learned my lesson and paid the price.
What have you taken on as a “truth” that you’ve heard from others than you now live by? That it’s hard to find clients, or that clients won’t pay for value? Maybe that it’s hard to find good, experienced people, or to motivate them? Do you believe that you can’t have a thriving practice AND enjoy a great life/.work balance? NONE of these are truths, they are simply views. There are lots of great examples of firm leaders who don’t accept these as truths, and operate their practices on a different set of beliefs. These firms enjoy significantly better results than the rest. Every one of them serves as proof that sometimes what we know for sure just isn’t so.
Do you want consciously choose how you want your firm and your life to be, or be run by the self-limiting views you’ve taken on, and now accept as truth.
Never believe in anything that limits you!
About the Author
Rick Solomon, CPA has been a practice growth and profitability consultant for two decades. Rick has created and facilitates the two-day Accountants Reboot where professionals learn how to peel away those self-limiting views that are unnecessary obstacles to the practice or career of their dreams!